August 22, 2019

On to the PGA TOUR

Zhang finishes No. 1 on Korn Ferry Tour points list

NORTH PLAINS, Ore.—A major question remaining from the Korn Ferry Tour regular season was whether China’s Xinjun Zhang would finish No. 1 on the points list. With his advancement to the PGA TOUR already assured, it was a matter of determining if he could maintain the top position.

With his tie for 43rd at the WinCo Foods Portland Open, Zhang hung on and became the second consecutive player from Asia to finish atop the standings. A year ago, South Korea’s Sungjae Im easily won the 2018 money title—the last year the Tour used money to determine ranking. Zhang will join Im on the PGA TOUR in just a few weeks.

Zhang finished 20th in the rankings in 2017 to pick up his PGA TOUR membership for the first time, and he dramatically improved in his return to the Korn Ferry Tour this season, with two victories and seven top-10s overall. Zecheng Dou accompanied Zhang to the PGA Tour two years ago. This year, Zhang will be the lone player from China moving on as Dou, Yechun Yuan, Andy Zhang and Hong Kong’s Motin Yeung fell short of the top-25 threshold.

Zhang, the winner of the Dormie Network Classic at Briggs Ranch in Texas and the Lincoln Land Championship in Illinois, took over the No. 1 rankings’ spot after his first victory and held that position for three weeks. He regained No. 1 following his Lincoln Land Championship triumph and hasn’t relinquished that spot since. Zhang says he is excited to see how he fares in his second PGA TOUR season, admitting he learned a lot during his rookie TOUR campaign. Most of the courses on the 2019-20 PGA Tour will be familiar to him, and after living in the U.S. for the better part of three years, the 32-year-old says he’s made the proper adjustments and expects better results.

“Making the jump from PGA TOUR Series-China to the Korn Ferry Tour was much more difficult than going from the Korn Ferry Tour to the PGA Tour,” Zhang admitted. “But I wasn’t able to keep my card on my first time on the PGA TOUR, so I still have a lot to learn and a lot to prove. I think I have a better feel for what life on Tour is like and what to expect now that I’m going back. I’m really looking forward to returning to the PGA Tour and staying out there.”

Sunday, Zhang finished with a 1-under 70 for an 8-under score overall, which was enough to edge Robby Shelton by 174 points in the points chase. No other PGA TOUR Series-China alums advanced to the PGA TOUR, but numerous players retained the Korn Ferry Tour playing privileges and will attempt to earn their cards in the upcoming three-tournament Finals that feature the 26-through-100 players on the Korn Ferry Tour points list and the 75 players who didn’t qualify for the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs. An additional 15 players who are either Special Temporary Members or playing with medical exemptions are also entered.

Even with his Regular Season finish, Zhang will play in all three Finals events. If he finishes No. 1 overall, not only will he be exempt on the PGA TOUR, but he will receive an invitation to the 2020 PLAYERS Championship, as well.

 

PGA TOUR Series-China Alums 2020 Membership Status

 

Pos.

Player

PGA Tour Series-China Years

2020 Status

1

Xinjun Zhang (China)

2014-16

PGA TOUR Member

28

Zecheng Dou (China)

2014-16

Korn Ferry Tour Member

38

Jamie Arnold (Australia)

2014

Korn Ferry Tour Member

40

Charlie Saxon (U.S.)

2016, 2018

Korn Ferry Tour Member

59

Yechun Yuan (China)

2018

Korn Ferry Tour Member